The 2019 Layer Feed Quality Conferences in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur were a big success. Held on October 14-15 and 17-18 respectively, the conferences welcomed over 250 delegates from Indonesia, Malaysia, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China and Serbia, among others.
This year, the two-day technical program covered transition to early lay, which was the second part the three-part flock longevity focus; feed efficiency and utilization; nutrition and health; and the future of egg production, which began last year. All these topics were prepared to help egg producers and feed producers in the region improve productivity and profit margins.
Egg producers must adapt
Animal welfare has gained strength among conscious consumers and this is the trend today, according to Luiz Mazzon, Director Asia of Humane Farm Animal Care.
Since conscious consumers are influencers, he believes the animal welfare trend will spread Asia. Consumers want transparency – they want to know all about the products, such as ingredients and certifications.
“Egg producers must adapt and provide the new market with products that are relevant. I believe Certified Humane Program will bring a balance to this situation,” Mr Mazzon explained.
Kicking off flock longevity part two (transition to early lay) session, Santiago Ramirez, Regional Marketing Manager of DSM Nutritional Products reviewed key points discussed at last year’s conferences.
He said the goals in layer production are high peak, good persistency, long laying cycle, egg size, shell quality and skeletal health. To achieve these goals, “we must start with the pullet,” he added.
To prepare the pullet, Dr Ramirez explained that farmers should focus the rearing phase which include organ development from 0 to 5 weeks, skeletal development which peaks at 7 weeks, gastrointestinal tract development and feed intake capacity development between 10-16 weeks, and medullary bone development at the end of the rearing.
Calcium relates to flock longevity, particularly in the transition to early lay period, according to Doug Korver, Professor of Poultry Nutrition at the University of Alberta, Canada.
He explained that layer farmers should prepare their pullets for sustained production. “They should maintain target growth of slightly above it, delay diet phase changes if needed, delay photostimulation if needed, manage the timing of increased Ca and manage midnight feeding.”
In the long term, he added, “they should focus on bird health and productivity. Not how do I get my hens into lay as soon as possible.”
To ensure flock longevity, priming the layer with the best micro nutrition is important. Gut efficiency and health is the target because improved digestibility will improve the layer performance and the egg quality, said Elisa Folegatti, Layer Specialist at DSM Nutritional Products Italy.
She continued that to improve digestibility, feed composition and chemical structure are important to be reviewed. Not less important, “NSP enzymes should be supplemented into the diet to extract energy and nutrients from the feed,” she said.
Speaking about challenges of layer nutrition in the tropics, Chris Domil O Cobacha, Animal Nutrition Specialist of the Philippines’ CDC Nutrition focused on feed ingredients and their quality, among other challenges.
According to him, layer farmers should consider what feed ingredients they should include in the formulations, acceptance parameters for the ingredients, supply of the ingredients and use of alternative ingredients.
On quality, he said they should care about moldy grains, presence of impurities, bacterial contaminants and mycotoxins.
Feeding modern layer
Robert Pottgueter, Nutritionist of Lohmann Tierzucht said the question of how long the early laying phase may last should not be defined by the calendar date or a specific age of the hen, but should depend on the state of development and performance of the flock.
“The hen must continue to grow in the laying phase until at least the 30th week of life, so control of body weight is a good management measure. If the animals don’t grow or even lose body weight, it calls for urgent and appropriate measures,” he explained.
NSPase in layer diets
Luiz Souza, Technical Manager Asia & Pacific of Adisseo, meanwhile focused on the use of NSPase in layer diets. He said the enzyme can create a conducive environment for high dose phytase to work in and has the potential to break down more indigestible fraction, hence rendering more available nutrients.
“It is recommended that when formulating layer diets, value of NSPase and high dose phytase should be taken into account, as the synergistic effect of NSPase and high dose phytase may release more energy, amino acids and P than the two enzymes added separately. Well-designed digestibility trials need to be conducted to provide accurate and reliable matrix value when such combination is used in laying hens,” Dr Souza explained.
The question of using fibers for layer feed was a hot topic as experts mulled on the efficacy of using fibers which are not completely absorbed by the small intestines. This is to enable the pre and probiotic actions to take place when the industry moves towards antibiotic-free production.
Lignocellulose or natural, plant-based fiber are important in layer feed, according to Arthur Kroismayr, an animal nutritionist from Austria. “Dietary fiber is relevant because insoluble fiber stimulates activity of the gizzard, stabilize intestinal microflora, regulates gas production, prevent infections by pathogens and produce/absorb short chain fatty acids in the intestines as well,” he said.
Feed particle size
The size of particles in layer feed is not something to be sidestepped in feed formulation. Ron Eek, Regional Area Manager Asia, Oceania & Pacific at Lohmann Tierzucht said layers dislike fine, dusty feed structures especially hens with their beaks intact. This is because it is harder for them to pick up the feed in their beaks to eat.
He recommended a coarse and homogenous feed structure as a base for better nutrient intake and healthy digestion. He also stressed on how fine mash and pellet-crumbs negatively affect layers’ internal organs which could prevent them an optimal nutrient absorption to grow well.
Impacts of heat
Temperature plays a huge role in animal behavior and laying hens can be adversely affected by unmonitored heat. “Heat can affect everything from egg production, eggshell quality, feed intake, digestion and gut health in layers,” said Glenmer Tactacan, Global Technical Manager Poultry of Jefo Nutrition.
He said a slight change in how layers are managed in terms of switching vaccination or feeding times at cooler hours, such as early morning or midnight feeding, can make a big difference. In heat stress conditions, a decrease in amino acid digestibility is seen in the gut. His suggestion was to increase the usage of crystalline amino acids in feed together with other enzymes such as protease and carbohydrases.
Bing Guo, Technical Manager of Perstorp Group Asia Pacific spoke about how specific countries in Southeast Asia have become top egg producers in the region.
He cited Malaysia and Indonesia catching up with big producers such as Thailand. Layers population, egg production rate and lifespan have been greatly elevated due to improved feed formulation, enhanced genetic breeding and better farm management practices.
“The top challenges for the layer industry in Southeast Asia are egg quality and egg production rate, especially in old flocks. Intestinal tract ageing could significantly negative impact digestion and absorption of feed. We found that tributyrin as carriers for butyrate was ideal to support intestinal villi growth to enable better nutrient absorption in such flocks,” he said.
Dr Guo iterated that with the AGP-status being more prevalent in the region, a stronger molecule such as tributyrin is needed for a clearer mode of action to strengthen gut effectiveness in an antibacterial role.
Delegates met by Asian Agribiz praised the strong program with speakers sharing field cases, new trial results and applicable take-home messages.
Moe Aung Thu from Myanmar’s Moe Ah San Trading said: “For me and my group, the knowledge we gained is priceless. Especially when it comes to using soluble fibres such as lignocellulose. We also learnt how to formulate feed to get stronger egg shells and increase layers’ performance.”
Lim Li Nee, Senior Manager of Malaysia’s PWF Feeds said she felt the speakers had a good balance of technical data and real-life stories. It was easy to comprehend and the panel discussions extended the topics.
Brian Lim, CEO of Malaysia’s Selasih Aman said: “One of the things that comes from attending a conference such as this is also networking with experts in the field. As for the conference, as annual attendees, we always look forward to getting latest data from the sources themselves.”